YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: PROMPT RESPONSE TO THE CALL FOR REPENTANCE
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Jon3:1-5,10 RESP PS – Ps 25:4-6,7b-9
R2 – 1Cor 7:29-31
GOSPEL- Mk 1:14-20
A story was told about a pious Christian lady that had to do a lot of traveling for her business, so she did a lot of flying. But flying made her nervous and often got her bored that she always took her Bible along with her to read, and it helped relax her.
One day, she was sitting next to a man who doesn’t believe in God, not to talk of sustaining reverence for the Holy Book. When he saw her pull out her Bible, he gave a little chuckle and went back to what he was doing.
After a while he turned to her and asked, “Do you really believe all the stuff in there, do you?”
The lady replied “Of course I do! It is the Bible- the word of God.”
He said, “Well what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?”
She replied “Oh, Jonah. Yes, I believe that; it is in the Bible. The Bible says Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and I believe it. And if it had said that Jonah had swallowed the whale, I would believe that too!” “Hahaha,” he laughed hilariously and asked, “Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?”
The lady said “Well I don’t really know. I guess when I get to Heaven I will ask him.” “What if he isn’t in Heaven?” the man asked sarcastically.
“Then you can ask him when you reach the Hell,” replied the lady.
Beloved in Christ, the first reading of today’s liturgy presents us with Jonah’s repentant journey to Nineveh, which yielded and hastily spurred some prompt and radical change of heart by the wicked people of Nineveh. Infact, the entire readings of today’s liturgy, emphasize the absolute need for total repentance and our immediate need for a quick and prompt response to God’s invitation to repentance. Whereby, we face God’s wrath of perpetual destruction in hell fire, should we ever play down on the entire content of Divine revelation seeking our redress, as portrayed in the funny response of the pious young traveller to the atheist in the introit story.
In the Second reading, St Paul, urges the Corinthian Church to waste no time in embracing the message of the Goodnews and in renewing their lives with repentance .
Whereas, the Gospel reading, describes the summary of Jesus’ Kerygma (preaching), “Repent, and believe in the Goodnews” (Mk 1:35), and equally describes how Jesus called His first set of disciples, Andrew, Peter, James, and John; which portrays how we, sinners, are to respond to God’s call with total commitment, by abandoning our accustomed style of sinful life.
*BRIEF EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF THE GOSPEL TEXT*
The Gospel reading, begins with Jesus’ kerygmatic teaching on repentance that is anchored on the concept of time: “The time has come. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).
*_THE TIME IS FULFILLED*_
The meaning of this verse hinges on the Greek word used for ‘time’: “The time is fulfilled…” There are two different words in Greek for ‘time’, and they carry very different meanings: “chronos” (human time) and “kairos” (God’s time). Mark does not use the word ‘chronos’ for ‘time’ here; ‘chronos’ indicates a moment in historical time, a date on the calendar, an hour in the day (human time). Instead, he uses the word ‘kairos’, which still means ‘time’ but is more to do with the eternal quality inherent in any given moment (God’s time). So Jesus does not announce the historical moment in time when the kingdom of God came to earth. Instead, he is alerting us to the possibility of encountering the kingdom of God at any given moment in historical time, if we repent and believe. So the time for REPENTANCE is “hic et nunc” (here and now).
*_REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL*_
The Greek word used “metanoeo” which means “to change one’s mind or direction” (repent). Its Hebrew equivalent “shûbh,” suggests “to turn around 180 degrees,” “to re-orient one’s whole attitude toward God in the face of his coming kingdom. Thus, repentance means that we make a complete change of direction in our lives. This involves a radical conversion (metanoia), a change of direction and priorities in our lives. Repentance only starts with the new vision rather than the guilt feelings. This is what the apostles witnessed in the Gospel reading, viz, a radical change of direction, sense of value and priority and a life motivated by new vision.
*THE DISCIPLES’ MODEL RESPONSE TO THE CALL FOR REPENTANCE*
The fishermen who were described in Cicero’s ranking of occupations as the least important people in the society- (owners of cultivated land appear first and fishermen last -De Off 1.150-51), in today’s text, become the most sought and VIPs in the kingdom of God through repentance. They achieved such feat by choosing the following steps:
(3)FOLLOWINGSHIP OF JESUS
The journey to repentance begins with the decision to leave the old for the new. Today’s Gospel text recounts that the apostles abandoned their nets and their fathers. This is a symbolic gesture we all must imbibe. The net represents that way of life that has tied or trapped us into the bondage of sin. Then, “fatherhood” represents those traditional, fetish or superstitious beliefs that impede a whole hearted acceptance of Jesus and Christian principles.
One common denominator that connects today’s readings on the theme of repentance is “promptness.” The wicked people of Nineveh took a prompt response to the preaching of Jonah. St Paul, equally chides the Corinthian believers on the need for promptness, while the apostles in the Gospel reading responded with promptness and immediacy to the call to repentance. That is why the prophecy of Isaiah says, “Seek out Yahweh while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near” (Isaiah 55:6).
(3) *FOLLOWERSHIP OF JESUS*
The apostles decided to follow Jesus. They followed Him till death. Even in crisis moments, they never lost their faith. We ask ourselves: Who do we follow? Have we decided to follow Jesus, even when the going gets tough? Do we have other sources of strength and power outside Jesus? Remember, sorrows will multiply for those who chase other gods (Ps 16:4).
To follow Jesus to the end, we need to adopt the following qualities of a good fisherman that made them appeal to Jesus’ choice of discipleship.
*_(i) MEN OF PROVIDENCE*_
Fishermen believe in providence (They go empty handed each day, hoping for a big catch). Following Jesus requires belief in “Yahweh Jireh” God provides (Gen 22:8).
*_(ii) MEN OF PATIENCE*_
Fishermen are patient set of people. Following Jesus requires patience and leading and serving the public requires patience (Lk 21:19).
*_(iii) PERSISTING MEN*_
A good angler is known for persistence. Persistent fishermen never give up. Following Jesus requires the virtues of not giving up in persistence. That is why Jesus admonishes us, “we ought not to loose heart” (Lk 18:1). The apostles did not give up… So, never give up.
Finally, a story was about about one Dee Silas, who was known for a particular ritual he performed every Sunday evening after Benedictions in his little village parish. Dee Silas, would carry a basket moving from one pew to the other, picking up unseen items. One day the parish priest, who had noticed these unfamiliar and ridiculous gestures from Dee Si every Sunday, accosted him and asked, “What is the meaning of this action you carry out every Sunday evening in my church… using baskets to pick what nobody sees?” “Hahaahahhaaha,” Dee Si laughed the Priest to scorn and replied, “Fada nwannem, I help you pick the words of your homily. Do not mind them when they hail you, compliment and clap for you after your homilies, they drop them for you after Mass each Sunday. So, Fr, I help you pick them up. That is why they cannot repent from their wickedness and evil.”
Beloved, do we really allow the word of God take flesh in our practical life or do we leave them for Dee Si to pick them up for us every Sunday evening? Rise today and repent… No time.
MAY GOD BLESS HIS WORDS IN OUR HEARTS ALWAYS, THAT WE MAY REACT WITH PROMPTNESS AND IMMEDIACY IN THIS CALL TO REPENTANCE. AMEN
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_